Sunday, October 13, 2013

Whither Rose McIver, or, The Cautionary Tale of Sharon Stone

No, you've probably never heard of Rose McIver.  She's a Kiwi actress, born in 1988, and hardly a household name.  Tonight, however, we have a watershed moment in her career - her first appearance on Once Upon a Time, in the recurring role of Tinkerbell.  It may very well be Rose's big break - we'll analyze that in a few years.  Tonight, however, I will be watching Once Upon a Time with decidedly mixed feelings.

We're not to the Sharon Stone part yet.

I first became aware of Rose McIver on Febuary 3, 2010*, when watching The Lovely Bones.  I didn't want to see the movie.  It was about a story I had no interest in, by a film maker who made two of the worst movies in the history of cinema (Lord of the Rings and King Kong (2005)). The only reason I went is because Saoirse Ronan played the lead.  I was blown away by her Academy Award nominated performance in Atonement, and she even rescued an otherwise awful City of Ember a year later.  I put her on my 'must-see' list and so I went to see The Lovely Bones despite my misgivings.  It's an awful movie, full of Oscar and Emmy winners and nominees, and with a big budget, but it's all-around bad.  The novel didn't translate to the visual medium at all, the acting was generally wooden, the comic relief was jarring, the back-to-the-70s look was cliched and even the amazing Saoirse Ronan seemed to sleepwalk through entire scenes.

It was bad until late in the movie, when the lead character's younger sister decided to investigate her murder. She suspected a neighbor and broke into his house.  I felt I was watching a real person, not just an actor in a movie.  Instead of watching a movie, I was suddenly experiencing a movie.  It's the feeling every moviegoer wants to feel.  It's why I see 100 or more movies a year.  And in a movie with so many handicaps, one actress playing an 18-year-old girl in a life-or-death situation made the magic happen.

After that, I started to pay attention to Rose McIver.  It wasn't easy, since she's from New Zealand and doesn't work steadily in the US market.  But in the next year and a half, I saw her in a couple of TV movies and I noticed that she made the movies better than they had any right to be.  Her style is so natural that I automatically believe I'm seeing a character - a real person, actually - and not an actor.

Then, it got even better in an unbelievable fashion.

Have you heard of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers?  Yeah, well, they're still on.  They change the cast and setting every year or two but the show is still being produced.  It also changes its name subtly every incarnation.  In 2009, Rose McIver became the yellow ranger on Power Rangers RPM.  I'm going to spare you any references to the Power Rangers formula, except that if you fast forward through the cheesy battle and morphing scenes in RPM, you get a pretty good post-apocalyptic story and you can finish an episode in 15 minutes or less.  I streamed all 30 episodes on Neflix in 2011.  Rose McIver's scenes were out of place - too good - in a program aimed at preteens.  In fact, the whole show overshot what other incarnations of Power Rangers tried to do, in scope, vision and acting.

OK, so at this point, I've got to cop to a fanboy crush on Rose McIver.  I saw something funny on the internet a while back that summarizes it best - a form titled "Marital Status."  There were three check boxes: "Single," "Married," and "In a committed relationship with a celebrity that neither knows nor cares that I exist."  I could check box number three.  At least as a joke.  Which brings us to Sharon Stone.

The details are somewhat different, but in the early 1980s, when I should have been studying, I watched a lot of TV, and on several programs, I noticed a 20-something cutie named Sharon Stone here and there.  I developed a bit of a crush on her as well, but not quite to the same degree as with Rose. Then, in the late 80s, came Total Recall and Basic Instinct, and Sharon Stone was a star.  Superstar.  You couldn't get away from the publicity and she went from being a working actress to a tabloid name brand and I stopped liking her.  I stopped enjoying her work and when her flavor-of-the-month career crashed, I didn't care.  I barely noticed.  Fame and success took the 1980s Sharon Stone away from me.

Tonight at 7:00 (8:00 Eastern and Pacific), Rose McIver will be presented to the country - nay, the world - in Once Upon a Time and who knows what will happen?  7.65 million people watched Once Upon a Time last week.  That's a lot of people who will be seeing Tinkerbell tonight, and, if I'm allowed to project a little, a  few will become smitten by her.  Possibly a few casting agents.  Will this be the beginning of a new star or just a steady paycheck for a working actress?  Will my fanboy crush crash and burn?  Time will tell.  I wish Rose McIver well, but at the same time, I don't want to get Stoned.

* Yes, I spell 'Febuary' the way I pronounce it.  It's my blog.